Wondering what The Skills is, how it works, and if it’s worth paying for?
Then this comprehensive and balanced The Skills review is here for you.
I’ve taken several classes on The Skills and put what I’ve learned into practice. I’ve also taken other online sports courses, so I can compare and contrast with what else is out there.
With instructors like Michael Phelps and Shaun White the platform certainly has attracted a lot of attention.
But is it worth the hype?
I’ll be covering all the information you need to know to help you decide if it’s right for you.
Editors note: MasterClass is another platform with top perfomers teaching you what they know. Their line up includes sporting greats like Simone Biles, Serena Williams, Steph Curry and more. Plus legendary instructors in other fields like Gordon Ramsay and Hans Zimmer. Click here to go to MasterClass.
If you’re in a hurry, here’s the short version:
- Great attention to detail, lessons cover sporting techniques clearly and provide useful supplementary handouts
- Impressive coach roster of sporting greats, from decorated olympians Michael Phelps and Shaun white, to world-class pro athletes like Paul Rabil and Megan Rapinoe
- Learn goal setting, mindset, and mobility from qualified exercise and sport psychology coaches
- Cheaper than many of its competitors without sacrificing quality
- Website is currently a bit buggy (some links on the site don’t work)
- Customer support is slow to respond to issues
Best for: Anyone who’s serious about improving their skills and learning from the best.
Overall: A fantastic site offering high quality lessons in a range of sports. Courses feel professional and practical, and really live up to the athlete's names behind them. Also fantastic value for money, especially compared to competitor sites. If you’ve got an interest in sport, check it out!
In this review, we’ll be covering:
- What “The Skills” really is
- How it works
- My review of 3 classes
- The pros, cons, and who its all for
- How much it costs
- Some possible alternatives
- What others have said
And at the end of the day, is it worth it?
So with all that said and done, let’s get right into the review!
What is The Skills?
The Skills is a brand new online learning platform that provides online courses taught by sporting greats and qualified exercise coaches.
Unlike other learning platforms like Skillshare and MasterClass, The Skills specializes in sport-based courses, and currently offers instructional courses in sports like soccer, football, swimming, etc. as well as more general wellness courses covering topics like mobility, confidence and motivation.
Currently, The Skills boasts names like Michael Phelps, Megan Rapinoe, Larry Fitzgerald and Shaun White, with more being added all the time.
How does The Skills work?
The premise of The Skills is simple: learn sports from the best in the world.
Want to learn competitive swimming? Why not learn from a 28x olympic gold medallist?
Interested in trying snowboarding? Take a few tips from a world-record breaking X-games gold medallist.
If you want to improve your sporting skills and take tuition from famous world-class athletes, The Skills is the place for you.
To access the content on The Skills, you’ll first need to pay the subscription fee, which can be paid either monthly or yearly. Once you’ve paid, you’ll have access to all 37 courses on the site.
Some courses on The Skills include:
- Megan Rapinoe teaches Soccer
- Fundamentals of swimming with Michael Phelps
- Fundamentals of snowboarding with Shaun White
- Confidence and pressure (taught by multiple instructors)
- Shoulder Mobility with Dr. Jen Fit.
Courses vary in length, with dedicated sport courses typically lasting 1-2 hours, broken up into 5-10 minute long lessons. Courses with a tighter focus, such as the shoulder mobility course, may only be 15 – 30 minutes long, typically broken up into 5-minute lessons.
The lessons are all performed either by professional athletes or qualified coaches, and all lessons are broken down into different topic areas, with supplementary printouts including workbooks and workout routines to help you get the most out of the courses.
Lessons themselves are a good mix of technical demonstrations and explanations of why certain form points or tips are important. It all helps to give students a good understanding of who to perform the techniques, but also why they’re important in the context of their sport.
My review of 3 classes
To prepare for this review, I sampled three courses from The Skills. Fundamentals With Michael Phelps, Shaun White Teaches Snowboarding, and Megan Rapinoe Teaches Soccer.
These courses are on the front page of The Skills website, and between them feature some of the biggest names in sport.
Shaun White and Michael Phelps are both decorated Olympians with multiple gold medals, and Megan Rapinoe currently holds the award for the best women’s soccer player in the world.
If I was going to recommend The Skills as a site, it would have to do these legends justice.
Fundamentals With Michael Phelps
You will learn:
- How to improve your fundamental stroke skills and get faster in the backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and in freestyle swimming
- Tips on how to optimize your breathing during swimming to maximize your energy whilst swimming
- The importance of stroke counting, how to pace yourself throughout a race and how to recover when things go wrong
- Strength building exercises and drills to help improve your performance in the pool and stay healthy in the long run
- An insight into the psychology of racing; motivation, race day routines, and how to cope in difficult situations
- Includes plenty of unique drills and advanced technique tips not covered by more foundational courses
- Covers sport-specific skills like pacing during a race and strength training outside of the pool
- High production quality, camerawork does a great job of showcasing techniques from above and below the water
- Phelps is warm and likeable presenter, and does a good job explaining concepts for people less familiar with swimming technique
- More geared towards intermediate to advanced swimmers, content may be too advanced for beginners unable to perform the basic strokes
- Could give more detail on weekly structure for swimming practice as well as strength training
Length of course: 11 video lessons totalling 1 hour and 6 minutes of content
Best for: Intermediate/advanced swimmers looking to up their game and improve their technique. Competitive swimmers who want to optimize their practice and become better racers. And of course, fans of Michael Phelps who want an insight into how he trains and swims with the best of them.
Overall: A well made, beautifully shot swimming course with a lot of great content. The course discusses a lot of important technique principles and adjustments that are sure to improve any budding swimmer’s performance in the water. Taking the time to mention strength training and sport-specific skills like pacing is also a nice touch for any competitive swimmers taking the course. For intermediate to advanced swimmers, the course is an absolute treat and well worth checking out.
Shaun White teaches snowboarding
You will learn:
- How to get started in snowboarding, picking the right board for you, finding the right stance, and some important points about safety
- The basic movements in snowboarding: turning and stopping, then basic tricks like ollieing, nollieing, and buttering
- Half pipe techniques — starting with basic navigation, all the way up to advanced techniques like the 720
- How to build your creativity in snowboarding, building your own routines and tricks
- Shaun’s history with snowboarding, his highs and lows in the sport, and what motivates him to keep practicing
- Get taught snowboarding from one of the best to ever do it, and learn more about Shaun White as an athlete while you’re at it
- Lessons have a good progression system that’s easy to follow, making following the course and learning the more advanced techniques much more approachable for newer snowboarders
- Shaun’s pointers on creativity help further progression after the course and are genuinely inspiring
- Important notes about safety and board selection makes the course extra-approachable for first time snowboarders
- Some tricks can feel a little light on info and still require some experimentation to get right; luckily this is never an issue for fundamental tricks like the ollie
Length of course: 26 lessons totalling 136 minutes of content
Best for: People new to snowboarding who want to get into the sport but don’t know where to start. Beginner to intermediate snowboarders looking to up their tricking game. Fans of Shaun White who want to hear more about his experiences as a professional snowboarder.
Overall: A fantastic introduction for anyone looking to get into snowboarding. Shaun is a passionate teacher and does a great job introducing basic snowboarding skills, and the progression of the course feels very natural, making the more advanced tricks feel much more attainable. It’s no wonder why this course is one of the most popular courses on The Skills right now.
Megan Rapinoe teaches soccer
You will learn:
- Fundamental soccer skills like ball control, dribbling, striking the ball and more. Important cues to remember when performing them and drills to practice them.
- How to incorporate strategy into your movements, how the setup of a game may affect the way you pass, run and kick
- How to think like a soccer player: what your strategy should be on the pitch and how to react to the unfolding game
- The secrets to performing at a high level, how Rapinoe deals with the pressure of playing at the world cup
- Insight into Rapinoe as a player, her approach to soccer, leadership and life in general
- Technique teaching focuses on practical drills and movements, a really effective and fun learning method that gets you stuck in straight away
- Lessons always link back to game strategy, gives a wider context of how to implement the taught techniques
- Unique perspective on Rapinoe, as she gets a chance to talk about not just soccer but her life, future ambitions, and activism
- Additional workbook helps add structure and goal setting to the training tips provided in the course
- Many lessons means a wide variety of content is covered, but some detail is lost in the shorter sessions, particularly on some more foundational skills
- Around half of the content is focussed on Rapinoe herself, which may be disappointing for people wanting a technical course about soccer, but may be a pro for fans of Rapinoe who want to learn more about her as a player
Length of course: 21 video lessons totalling 89 minutes of content
Best for: Beginner/intermediate soccer players who want to start taking their training more seriously and developing their own routine. Competitive soccer players looking for inspiration and new ways to approach the game. Fans of Rapinoe who want a unique insight into her life and work as a pro athlete.
Overall: A fun course in which you’ll get to know Megan Rapinoe better as a player, whilst learning important soccer skills and how to apply them. Being a Rapinoe fan going in helps, as a lot of the content is centred around her, but for a Rapinoe fan the course is an absolute treat. The instructional lessons help you get stuck in with learning straight away and will help you develop a long-term practice routine to make sure you keep improving after the course is over. Well worth a look if you’re interested in Rapinoe or soccer more generally.
What I liked about The Skills
Attention to detail
The thing that impressed me the most about The Skills was their ability to get the most out of the courses.
One problem that's plagued me when trying sport courses from other sites is when it's apparent that the producers don’t really know anything about sport, sometimes leading to courses where the athlete is given no direction on what to talk about, and the supplementary materials like the workbooks are sub-par.
Not so with The Skills; it's clear that everyone involved has a passion for sport and understands what a sporting audience wants to see: techniques are well demonstrated, courses are well structured, and many courses come with well-designed supplementary workouts that are effective and easy to follow.
Having worked as a personal trainer myself I know designing a good workout routine isn’t as easy as it looks!
The coach roster
One of The Skills key selling points is getting taught by celebrity athletes at the top of their game.
Whilst the roster is currently still fairly small, as you can see from my course reviews, the selection still includes some impressive names. Moreover, by making the site solely focussed on sport, The Skills is able to include material on some more niche sports like snowboarding and volleyball.
More generalised sites that don’t focus on sport will inevitably have to stick to big names like basketball, football, etc. So it's nice to see The Skills delving into other, less covered sports that still have huge participant numbers on a casual and amateur level.
Carrying on from the previous point, it's also nice to see The Skills adding more general sport content. The hip and shoulder mobility courses are particularly impressive for me, as these are things that plague practitioners of almost all physical activities.
The Skills also boasts an impressive library of mindset related courses on topics like goal setting, motivation, avoiding burnout, and many more. The benefit of this content is that people who come to The Skills just to learn about one sport they’re interested in will still have plenty of relevant content to enjoy, making the subscription fee all the more worth it.
Easily the best part of The Skills right now is how it’s undercutting the competition without sacrificing quality. A year’s access for $96 works out to $8 a month, and if you’re not ready for that kind of financial commitment, the monthly subscription gives you full access to the site for just $19. It’s unfortunate that there’s currently no way to buy individual courses or get a free trial run, but when it's already this cheap it’s not a huge loss if you decide the content isn’t for you.
What I think could be improved
The website can be buggy at times
The one pet peeve I have about The Skills right now is the website. Don’t get me wrong, the site looks very professional and the interface is intuitive, but unfortunately it does suffer from a number of bugs.
When experiencing The Skills for the first time, I had links on the front page either not working or redirecting me to a completely different page than what I expected. The platform is far from unusable and I was still able to navigate to the courses I needed to, but it made using it for the first time a little frustrating.
As The Skills website is still fairly new and being frequently updated, I’m expecting that these bugs will be patched out pretty soon, but until they’re gone they may give first-time users a bad impression.
Customer support can be slow
For most customers this isn’t likely to be a problem, but after having some technical issues with our account, we reached out to The Skills customer support service and found the responses to be pretty slow.
As well, I noticed on the site comments by users asking questions about the courses or pricing, some of which were answered promptly, but some of which weren’t answered weeks after being posted.
Hopefully this will get resolved as time goes on and the platform matures, as it can be frustrating to deal with slow customer support when you have an issue that needs resolving.
Who is The Skills for?
The Skills as a total package really does have something for everyone, and that’s one of its biggest strengths.
Some courses definitely veer towards intermediate to advanced content, whilst some are resolutely beginner’s guides, and there’s also plenty of supplementary content that more or less anyone can get something out of.
To narrow it down a bit, I’d say The Skills is best for:
- Anyone interested in getting into a new sport and/or fitness in general
- Beginner/intermediate practitioners of a sport looking to up their skills and workout routines
- Low level competitive athletes looking for motivation on new ways to train and hone their skills
- People at all levels looking to take their fitness training more seriously
How much does The Skills cost?
The Skills costs $96 for a year’s subscription, or $18 for a month. Paying the subscription gives you access to all 37 courses on the site, a number that’s bound to increase as time goes on.
If you want the best value for money, the year’s subscription is easily the way to go, however if you just want to try the site out before committing, the monthly subscription is much more affordable. For 30+ hours of high quality sports coaching content, the price is easily worth it.
The Skills refund policy
Right now, The Skills does not have a refund policy, nor a free trial option. This is helped by the fact that the monthly subscription is quite cheap, but it's worth knowing going in that the subscription is non-refundable.
Alternatives to The Skills
Arguably the biggest competitor to The Skills right now, MasterClass offers a wide variety of courses, covering business, cooking, music, writing, and of course, sport.
MasterClass has a number of high quality sports courses, including courses by Lewis Hamilton, Alex Honnald and Tommy Caldwell, Tony Hawk, Serena Williams, Simone Biles, and more. One particular course that impressed me was the basketball course by none other than Steph Curry.
The main downside of MasterClass compared to The Skills is how broad it is, the most cost efficient way to experience MasterClass is to get the annual pass priced at $180. For that price you get access to a huge library of high quality courses, but if you’re only interested in sport the number of relevant courses drops to 7, compared to 37 courses on The Skills for just over half the price.
MasterClass is definitely a great learning resource, and it definitely has some sport courses worth checking out, but if sport is your main focus, The Skills is a much better value for money.
The other major site for sport instructional content is, as always, YouTube. If you need a free tutorial quickly and cheaply, YouTube is undoubtedly the way to go.
However as I’ve said on previous reviews, YouTube’s wealth of content is both a blessing and a curse. Whilst there’s a lot of great quality free content on YouTube, it requires manually searching out, which for beginners who may have a hard time knowing what qualifies good instruction, can be a real challenge. Additionally, the structure of youtube as a site means you’ll be learning from whatever videos you stumble across, rather than an organised curriculum, which can slow down your progression in the long run.
If you have a specific technique or question you need answered, YouTube is a great tool and always worth using. However, if you’re looking for more of a holistic learning experience, or want to get introduced to a new sport, a curated site like The Skills is definitely the way to go.
If you're thinking of learning martial arts online, read our article Can you really learn Martial Arts online first!
What have others said about The Skills?
Trying to find opinions on The Skills online was a bit more challenging than I thought. With how new the site is there’s not a lot of commentary about it on social media.
I decided in the end to focus on the comments on The Skills website itself, as these are pretty plentiful and give a much better idea of how people who’ve actually experienced the courses feel about the content.
And looking at the comments the feedback is overwhelmingly positive, on the Michael Phelps course I spied one comment proclaiming
“I absolutely love it!”.
Similarly positive comments can be seen on Megan Rapinoe’s course,
“I thought it was awesome, I wish I could meet her in person”.
What the comments tell me more than anything is that people are connecting with the athletes who are coaching, and the lesson structures are helping to facilitate that. I definitely found this myself whilst watching, that the lessons helped me connect with the athlete teaching, and made it easier to get involved in the content.
Is it worth it?
In my opinion: absolutely.
There’s a wealth of content here that covers almost all of the important aspects of sport, and taught by highly qualified instructors. The lessons are well put together, the course progressions are easy to follow, and the supplementary material is top-tier.
Coming in, it's worth noting that different courses are aimed at different audiences, so it's worth doing your research beforehand to make sure the courses you were hoping to try out are going to be appropriate for your skill level, and deliver on what you want out of them.
That aside however, there’s still a number of courses on more general topics like mobility and mindset that are appropriate for athletes of all levels, so there really is something for everyone.
Plus, considering how cheap The Skills is compared to its competitors, it's an easy recommendation for anyone who wants to take their sporting skills to the next level.
Frequently asked questions
The Skills costs $96 for a yearly subscription (working out to $8 per month), or $18 for a monthly subscription
The Skills currently does not have a refund policy
At time of writing there are 37 courses with more on the way
The Skills currently does not have a free trial